Walking to show gratitude
Just months after learning to walk again, Louise Turner is set to walk 5km to raise money for the organisation that has given her the best chance at life.
Turner, 23, suffered a brain injury when she fell off a horse on her family’s Irwell property on January 14; a fall which led to four weeks in intensive care, three weeks in Christchurch Hospital’s neurology ward, and almost four months in rehabilitation with the Laura Fergusson Trust.
There she learned how to walk, talk, swallow, and even go out to a cafe again.
The challenges continued when she was discharged with a community rehabilitation package from the Trust’s community rehab team, Insight. At home, she had to learn how to deal with fatigue and regular falls, and work out how to get back to life as she knew it.
Turner said it was like someone had pressed pause on her life.
She had one paper left of an architectural technology qualification at Ara, and had not long returned from a stint grooming for her aunt – New Zealand equestrian Olympian Caroline Powell – at the Burleigh Horse Trials in the UK.
But in the blink of an eye, everything changed.
Horses had always been a a big part of her life. A high-level eventer herself, Turner rode every day, and every time she got on her horse she wore a helmet – something which likely saved her life on January 14.
She doesn’t remember much about the actual accident, or the months before it, but parents Jenny and Richard Turner do. They saw the horse slip, and said the actual fall didn’t look too bad but then their daughter didn’t get up again.
‘‘My horse just fell over and I hit the ground a bit too hard and I didn’t wake up properly for a month,’’ Turner said.
‘‘I think that part was probably more scary for my parents and my family.’’
Turner suffered a traumatic brain injury – like the adult equivalent of shaken baby syndrome – and had two brain bleeds as well as breaking her clavicle.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter flew her to Christchurch Hospital and she was in A&E within an hour of the accident occurring, and in ICU within two hours. That quick response gave her the best chance at recovery, and Turner and her family are forever grateful.
That’s why she’s decided to give back, by entering the 5km event at this weekend’s Selwyn Running Festival. She’s set up a Give a Little page where people can sponsor her, with money raised going to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.
Before her accident, 5km wasn’t a huge challenge but now it’s massive. She’ll have two of her best friends by her side and she just wants to finish. She managed to walk 5km for the first time since her accident last Thursday, and planned to do another two 5km walks before race day.
She said the support from her family, friends and those who came to her rescue and helped in her recovery has been incredible.
Turner said she’s forever grateful.
‘‘It’s been hard, seeing how it impacts on everyone else, because I just used to do my own life and tried not to bother anyone else. So that’s probably been one of the most difficult things,’’ she said.
It’d been a frustrating journey, and the road ahead is still long; she still requires daily therapy, but Turner’s a goal-setter and her goals are pinned to her bedroom wall as a daily reminder of where she’s going.
Her mum said she’s always been a focused, positive, independent person.
‘‘And I’m sure all those things have made a big difference,’’ Jenny Turner said.
Louise Turner is preparing to walk 5km to raise money for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, just months after having to learn how to walk again.